SEOUL, South Korea — Soo II Lee, president and chief operating officer of Hankook Tire America Corp. from 2009-12, is returning to the U.S. for a second stint as president, effective mid-January.
Mr. Lee — president and COO of parent Hankook Tire & Technology Ltd. since January 2018 — succeeds Hosung Suh, who's returning to the firm's global headquarters in Seoul after 2 1/2 years as the U.S. subsidiary's top executive. He'll be assuming an as-yet undisclosed assignment.
Mr. Lee, who began his career with Hankook in 1987, will split his time between Hankook America headquarters in Nashville, Tenn., and global headquarters in Seoul.
As the U.S. subsidiary's top executive, Hankook noted, Mr. Lee will be tasked with three key areas of focus: competitiveness, innovation and results.
Mr. Suh, in a statement, noted that Mr. Lee's expertise and vision will benefit him greatly in the new position and will help Hankook continue its growth within the Americas.
"As a proven leader, (Mr.) Lee brings his wealth of Hankook knowledge and experience back to America," Mr. Suh said. "He will help us continue to elevate our brand and continue our growth in the region. He also understands the value of customer service and our commitment to excellence in manufacturing high-quality products for North American consumers."
Hankook said it has developed a strategy to enhance its competitiveness in the North American tire industry that will incorporate innovation and leaning into research and development efforts.
Under Mr. Suh's leadership, the tire maker opened its first U.S. tire plant, a 1.5-million-sq.-ft. plant in Clarksville, Tenn., in October 2017.
Hankook derives 24% of its global revenue from sales in the Americas, or roughly $1.48 billion in fiscal 2018.
Mr. Lee has held a number of executive positions during his 33 years with the company, including his roles as president and COO of the parent company since 2018. Prior to that, he held positions as executive vice president and chief marketing officer, and chief corporate management officer and was president and COO of the U.S. subsidiary from 2009-12.
"I am looking forward to the opportunity to lead Hankook Tire's team in America," Mr. Lee said.
"As we move into this new decade, I am excited about being able to continue the growth of our American headquarters as well as implement the necessary strategic initiatives that will continue our goal of becoming a global leader in the tire industry."
Mr. Suh was named president of Hanook Tire America in July 2017, tasked with growing the tire maker's presence in the American market. Prior to that he was senior vice president of the parent company's global corporate strategy planning division.